Thursday, October 15, 2015

our potty training journey

I'm calling this a journey because we definitely were not one of those families that potty-trained our toddler in 48 hours, no problem. It's been a process with some bumps along the way, but nonetheless, we are at a good point in the journey- far enough along for me to share some thoughts about it with you other mommas!
I will start off by saying that Hayden is a march-to-his-own-beat, take-your-time kind of guy. He didn't walk until 17 months, and he's always done things when he's good and ready to do them, and not a minute before. I love this about him, and I constantly have to remember to pause and let him go at his own pace. 
So, that being said...our original plan was to start potty-training well before Little Sister made her debut and blessedly just have one kiddo in diapers at a time. Ha! This did not work at all. We tried to start shortly after he turned two and it was a catastrophic disaster. We all shed tears that weekend and decided to shelve the idea for a few months. Then we tried again in the fall, before Charlotte was due - again, no dice. We gave up the one-kid-in-diapers-at-a-time dream and didn't approach potty training again until Hayden started showing the signs of being ready. This was at about 2 and a half years old. He could articulate when he was going and when he needed to be changed. He stayed dry often at naps and was interested in the potty (checking all the boxes). This time we decided a completely different approach- one that I cannot recommend enough, if you have a laid-back kiddo like us. I read this book and it totally changed my mentality for potty-training. I know there's a ton of books out there (trust me, I've read my fair share!) but this one resonated with me the most and really worked for us. I highly recommend reading the whole book (they have one for girls too), but in the meantime, here's our potty-training pro (hahahaha) tips: 
1. Potty Training Sessions, not days: We did potty-training sessions where Hayden would be in his undies for an hour or two at the most. It did not disrupt our lives- we weren't imprisoned at home until he was completely trained. This approach was a million times more manageable and less stressful than our previous attempts.  We held our sessions whenever we were at home and when he was in the mood. I didn't push him if he wasn't feeling it and we didn't have him in undies consecutively each day. If he had an accident or a success, I asked him if he wanted to stay in undies or go back to a diaper. He really guided the process. 
2. Patience, patience, patience: This is a process, y'all! After about 3 days of sessions with 0 successes, we had a bunch of yay! moments in a row and no accidents from that point onward for about 2 weeks. He quickly moved from wearing his undies at home only to wearing them all day long (except for naps). Even now with our summer of transitions, we have had some backwards steps and we know this journey isn't quite over. We were ready to give up pull-up use at night and during naps until we moved... Now we're back in them again and that's okay. We still have the occasional accident, but it's all part of the process and we feel really confident about H's ability to use the bathroom independently. 
3. Rewards: I have no shame in offering him small rewards for bathroom use. We went to the store and let Hayden choose his treat. He chose gummy bears for #1 and bigger red vines for #2.  Having them out in his line of sight was a reminder to use the potty instead of his pants. 
4. Exposure: We had a potty seat in Hayden's bathroom from the time he was 20 months and would let him sit on it and inspect it whenever he wanted. That way it wasn't scary when he started using it. We also read potty books for months and months (so much so that I would have to hide some of them at bedtime so that we could read something a little more entertaining). We moved from the potty to a kid's toilet seat in the first couple weeks of potty training. Now we are at the point where he's able to use any bathroom without a special seat. 
Here are some of the items that made our potty-training a success:
Potty Training Essentials

1  // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 //

Finally, my secret weapon for potty-training (and also part of the reason that we failed the first 2 times)....
No, no not for Hayden- obviously! Seriously though, a little imbibing helped us through some of the more challenging days that came along with potty-training. And also, to celebrate success ;)  Since our first two attempts were when I was pregnant, this crucial factor was missing! I will say that potty-training has been my least favorite parenting hurdle, but at the same time I feel rather accomplished about making the transition out of diapers. For anyone that's just starting the process or still on the journey, like us, hang in there and have a glass of wine ;) 

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